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National Archives

Press Release

The Fires Of Kuwait Premieres at Bush Museum

For Release: June 3, 2002
College Station, TX -

On June 3, the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum will open its next feature exhibit entitled The Fires of Kuwait.

The deliberate sabotage of over 700 Kuwaiti oil wells by retreating Iraqi forces created the greatest man-made ecological disaster in the history of our planet. Crude oil gushed from the damaged wells at a rate of 2,735 barrels per minute blackening the landscape. The thick smoke from the burning wells darkened the sky for hundreds of miles. The devastation was so extensive that it was visible from space. It took thousands of firefighters, most of them from Texas and Canada, seven months to regain control of the sabotaged wells. Their heroic efforts averted further ecological damage and allowed Kuwait to re-establish itself as a major oil exporter. From the end of the Gulf War in late February to November 6, 1991, when the last well was capped, approximately 2 billion barrels of crude oil went up in smoke or flowed onto the Kuwaiti desert. The Fires of Kuwait chronicles and salutes the efforts of these firefighters as they fought extreme heat, blowing sand, oil, saltwater, poisonous gas and undetonated ammunition to restore global economic security.

The Fires of Kuwait consists of the work of three different photographers from various backgrounds. Amateur photographer Dave Wilson, a Houstonian, was in Kuwait for ABB Vetco Gray Company. His work has been featured at the Houston Center for Photography as well as World Oil magazine. Peter Menzel is professional photographer whose work has appeared in National Geographic, Time, U.S. News and World Report, and Life magazines. David Thompson is an oil well fighter with Boots and Coots, Inc. in Houston who took numerous photographs while working in Kuwait. When asked to comment on the significance of the exhibit Patricia Burchfield, Museum Curator, stated: "The photographs in this exhibit capture the stark reality of ecological devastation. The fierce fire, the blinding smoke and the gushing oil are forever preserved in these stunning and sometimes haunting images."

The Fires of Kuwait will remain on display at the museum through July 31, 2002. Museum hours are Monday - Saturday, 9:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. and Sundays from 12:00 until 5:00 p.m. Museum admission is $5.00 for adults, $4.00 for students, $3.50 for senior citizens 62+ and groups of 20 or more with reservations. Children under 16 as well as Texas A&M and Blinn College students are free.

Built with private donations from thousands of people throughout the world, the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum officially opened on November 7, 1997, at a ceremony attended by President and Mrs. Bill Clinton, former Presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, former First Ladies Lady Bird Johnson, Betty Ford, Rosalynn Carter, Nancy Reagan, members of the Bush family, and distinguished guests. Since its opening, the Bush Library has hosted more than 845,000 visitors, making it one of the most popular tourist attractions of the region.

The George Bush Presidential Library and Museum sits on 90 acres located on the campus of Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas. The Bush Library is the tenth presidential library administered by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and supported in part by the George Bush Presidential Library Foundation, a non-profit organization.

The textural and audiovisual collections of the Library make it the ideal center of study for Bush Administration scholars. Its archives include more than 38,000,000 pages of personal, Vice Presidential, and Presidential papers of George Bush; 2,000,000 photographs, 5,000 video tapes, 7,000 volumes of printed material and 80,000 museum artifacts.

The financial support of the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum is a model of public/private partnership. The Library is supported by the American people through Federal appropriations, fees generated by admission to the Museum, and through the generosity of thousands of individuals and corporations who donate money and in-kind services to the Bush Library Foundation to support the Library's mission.

George Bush Presidential Library and Museum
1000 George Bush Drive West, College Station, Texas 77845
Telephone: (979) 691-4000 | Facsimile: (979) 691-4050 | TTY: (979) 691-4091